Oscar Preview 2019

Even though the Academy is currently self-immolating, we’d never pass up our annual Oscar predictions and gripes roundtable.

Last year, David & Chase tied with 18 out of 24 correct, but only Tyler predicted that The Shape of Water (remember that?) would win Best Picture.

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
A Star Is Born

TYLER: I stan Shape of Water! Fish sex! Anyway… I compare this Best Picture race to the 2016 Presidential Election, with Roma and Green Book standing in for Hillary Clinton and The Orange Toad, respectively. Roma is an iconoclastic, deeply intelligent film burdened by some stupid lodestones (black and white, Netflix, foreign, her emails, Bill) while Green Book is a movie to make white Boomers feel warm and fuzzies about the imagined past they never interacted with, but secretly is racist, sub-elementary school trash. Yes, in this metaphor Beale Street is Bernie (too good for this world) and A Star Is Born is Jill Stein (just shiny enough to convince some very smart people it is not dumb and condescending as shit). So, in the spirit of 2019 optimism… Roma. Not just because it’s the second best movie of this decade. But because we need it.

DAVID: This list makes me mad every time I look at it. How not just one but two of the least-qualified Best Picture nominees ever are actually in serious consideration is beyond my understanding, especially when some incredible films (First Man and Beale Street for starters) got left out in the cold. Nevertheless, it feels to me like the right film — Roma — is going to triumph on Sunday night. I hope, anyway. Star is a case study in how not to campaign; a Black Panther win (the consensus pick???) would upend yet again what an “Oscar Movie” should be; BlacKkKlansman would be The Departed all over again. It’s gotta be Roma. Yes, it’s Netflix, and black and white, and in Spanish, but it’s gotta win. Right?

CHASE: Oscar so rarely gets it right, so why do I still care so much?? I’m not even going to be watching out of hope. I’ll be watching out of fear. Green Book would be an absolute disaster. No one looks back at Driving Miss Daisy as an exceptional Best Picture, so why are some voters seemingly so eager to make the exact same mistake again? It would set the Oscars back 30 years. Roma is the frontrunner, but it would have to hurdle the fact that no foreign language film has ever won Best Picture before. Please be RomaPlease!

SEAN: We could do worse than another Departed-like win (go back and look at that 2006 line-up, it’s still the best thing nominated even if it is pulpy light Scorsese), so I would be all for a BlacKkKlansman upset if it means I don’t have to see either Bohemian Rhapsody or Green Book win. A Star is Born remains the best thing I saw last year, so I’m not sure what film Tyler saw. All that being said, Roma will make history and win Best Picture and will be remembered as one of the great Best Picture victories.

Rami Malek

Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

TYLER: Can we punt this category? This is, quite possibly, the biggest pile of nominated blegh I’ve ever seen. And Casey Affleck won an Oscar, recently. Mortensen is a caricature of a caricature of the screenwriter, Bale is a good accent and several In-N-Out triple doubles, Cooper is a condescending Eddie Vedder ripoff who doesn’t come close to approximating the portrayal of destructive addict co-dependent he needs to, Dafoe is twenty years too old for the role and essentially playacts as Jesus Christ, The Artist, and Malek’s performance is elevated because everything around him is straight-to-DVD garbage. Malek, with a shrug so meh it could destroy suns.

DAVID: I think Cooper is terrific as the gin-soaked Jackson Maine, and I wouldn’t mind if he won. Same with Bale, though in a much less impressive film. The biggest snub here was Ethan Hawke’s revelatory performance in First Reformed, which should have walked off with this months ago . So it’s gonna be Rami Malek, who I’m otherwise a massive fan of (all the way back to The Pacific, baby), and has had the unenviable job of having to stand tall, with fake teeth, amidst the ashes of a catastrophic production. He’s more or less said the right things, and having been as responsible as anyone for Bryan Singer’s firing only helps his case.

CHASE: And now for the annual part of this Oscar preview where I rant about how the Academy’s ability to appreciate subtle acting is dead. That’s how we got Eddie Redmayne sitting immobile in a wheelchair over Micheal Keaton. That’s how we got Sean Penn over Mickey Rourke. It’s why Leonardo DiCaprio finally won by literally dragging himself across the frontier. It’s why Gary Oldman won for strapping two ham hocks to his face for jowls and waggling them around to “be” Winston Churchill. That’s why Rami Malek makes perfect sense. He’s got a pair of prosthetic teeth and a strut. This category is a sham.

SEAN: The only person that deserves to be here is Bradley Cooper who directed himself to the best performance of his career. Rami Malek is going to win for overcoming a bad situation in a pretty bad film.

Glenn Close

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

TYLER: [says mantra] I will not bring up Toni Colette or Viola Davis. [bows] Hey this list of nominees kind of rules! Credit to Oscar for not shying away from Aparicio or McCarthy, who give astounding performances in downbeat roles that aren’t just asking for Oscar recognition. Colman, McCarthy and Aparicio are titans, but all outside shots. I wouldn’t be surprised – indeed, I would be delighted – if any of those three won. Yet I have a feeling Close gets it, for her tortured, silent, insistent role in the otherwise tired and overworked authorial guilt trip that is The Wife.

DAVID: It’s so awesome to see Yalitzia here as the first indigenous woman ever to be nominated for Best Actress, and she anchors Roma with aching sincerity. I’m also the biggest Olivia Colman stan around, and she’d have my vote over and over again, as many times as she desired. McCarthy was great. Lady Gaga was outstanding (credit to snubbed director Cooper). So it’s such a bummer that Glenn Close will be basically be getting the lifetime achievement award.

CHASE: Is there any doubt that the women absolutely crushed the men this year? Glenn Close won this award with her speech at the Golden Globes and that’s fine. It’s a career award and no one cried when Leo got one. Sure, I’d rather see Lady Gaga or Colman win, but that’s how this game is played. Lady Gaga will win in 2034 when she plays an abused wife in a wheelchair or some nonsense.

SEAN: This was the most exciting Best Actress race in years until Glenn Close starting winning everything for a sentimental career achievement vote. I’ll never forgive the Academy for passing over Toni Colette for her tour de force performance in Hereditary. This also should have been an easy get for Lady Gaga’s breakout performance, but Bradley Cooper’s refusal to actually talk about his film or actively campaign has really hurt A Star is Born‘s chances of winning anywhere other than Best Song.

Mahershala Ali

Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice

TYLER: In my column on the best performances of the year, the only one that I would say qualifies as a snub is Thirst Trap Michael B. Jordan’s righteous, indignant Killmonger. Failing that, I’m not sure who I would’ve nominated in place of Driver or Rockwell, both of whom’s performances I’d safely call “meh.” Mahershala deserves this just by virtue of having to sit through scenes with Mortensen, directed by a chud like Farrelly. But in my heart of hearts I will ride for one of the weirdest, highly energized, memorable performances in a rote two-hander in a while, Richard E. Grant. Karen’s Boys 4 Life!

DAVID: Oh, I would be delighted if Richard E. Grant won, and you could argue that no one has been more charming on the circuit (or on Twitter) this awards season. Anything that gets people talking about his underappreciated greatness, or Withnail & I, is a win for me. But it doesn’t seem like Mahershala Ali can be stopped, despite (or because of?) people’s opinion of Green Book. Although it would be somewhat ironic if Sam Elliott won because of, like Ali in Moonlight, basically one standout scene.

CHASE: Am I coming across as too negative? Sorry, I don’t mean to be that way. Let’s talk about a subject that makes me happy: Mahershala Ali. He’s proved himself to be Teflon amidst the mud slinging around Green Book, and none of that film’s problems are his fault. He’s excellent and his meteoric rise from side character to one of our finest working actors is something to cheer. That he’s also giving a likely Emmy award-winning performance every week on True Detective only bolsters his bonafides and keeps him on the minds of Oscar voters. Good for him. But who’s missing from this category, Tyler? Steven Yeun gave my favorite supporting performance of the year in the unloved-by-Oscar film Burning, and, despite winning numerous critics awards, didn’t even get a sniff here.

SEAN: Look, Mahershala Ali is a good actor, but why do we need to reward him again so quickly? It’s not really even a supporting performance and stacked up against Sam Elliott or especially Richard E. Grant it doesn’t measure up. Sam Rockwell has no business being here for his SNL-level caricature of George W. Bush.

Regina King

Amy Adams, Vice
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

TYLER: I thought that Weisz and Stone were some of the weakest parts of The Favourite, but I might be reading too much into Lanthimos’s conflicted brain about whether he was making a costume drama Mean Girls or a spiritual successor to Barry Lyndon. It’s a joy to see a soap actress like de Tavira get nominated, especially since her role in Roma could be (incorrectly) classified as an antihero or outright antagonist. But, happily since the betting odds are in her favor, I believe King wins, on the back of the amazing apartment scene and the trip to Puerto Rico. Fantastic work.

DAVID: The devilish Weisz would be my personal choice, but I finally got to see Beale Street for myself last week, and boy is Regina King good in those scenes you mentioned. A worthy winner indeed. Amy Adams will (literally) always have next year.

CHASE: So much of the Best Actress race has come down to an acknowledgment that Glenn Close has been nominated seven times and never won, so she needs a career award. Do you know what Amy Adams’s stat line is going to be come midnight on Sunday? 0-for-6. Her next nomination will also be her seventh. I’m not picking her to win, I just think its an interesting look at how important having a  “narrative” working in your favor is. This is the tightest of the four acting categories — I really don’t think Weisz is out of it. She just won the BAFTA and there are a lot of Brits in the Academy voting body. The Favourite is still very much in the awards races while Beale Street has become an also-ran. I’m picking King because she’s great and Beale Street needs some love, but I’m eyeing this as a coin-flip.

SEAN: The Marina de Tavira nomination is the one that I love the most just because of how unexpected yet deserving it was. Rachel Weisz is doing the best work of her career in The Favourite and that BAFTA win should help her cross the finish line.

Alfonso Cuaron & Yalitzia Aparicio

Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Pawel Pawlikoswski, Cold War
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice

TYLER: Why did this have to be the Spike movie nominated? I’m not a huge proponent of authorial and directorial honesty in true event filmmaking, but Spike pro-cop bias shines through in BlacKkKlansman in a way that has left me cold since I read Boots Riley’s criticism of the film. Lol, McKay. It brings me no end of pleasure that Cold War, a movie that in no way intentionally but absolutely unintentionally dunks all over Damien Chazelle’s Oscar-baiting musical fart La La Land, beat out Chazelle’s latest “I am an Oscar Deserving Filmmaker, Dammit” effort this year. I admire The Academy for embracing Lanthimos in a way they never embraced Kubrick. But really, this is Cuaron’s to lose again, and I don’t think he disappoints.

DAVID: I’m not going to take that Chazelle bait, Tyler. But I agree that this will and should be Alfonso Cuaron. Roma is a masterpiece, full stop. A Spike win would feel pretty hollow, even for Spike. I’m mostly just happy Farrelly didn’t sneak in.

CHASE: It is an absolute crime that Bradley Cooper is not here. And now we see the problems with the “honorary” nomination. Spike Lee absolutely deserves to be an Oscar nominated director, but not for BlacKkKlansman. It’s not even one of his own five best films, much less one of the five best directed this year. I’ve spent a lot of time this year wondering why foreigners never seem to get nominated anymore when the category has a long history of nominating greats like Truffaut, Fellini, Kieslowski, and Meirelles, so I was quite surprised and happy to discover Pawilkowski here on the morning of nominations! That said, Cuaron should be your highest confidence pick on Oscar night. He’s deservingly going to win this in a walk.

SEAN: Bradley Cooper was absolutely screwed here, but it’s only McKay that you could argue stole his slot. The rest of the line-up is great and that includes Spike Lee’s angry, wild, and masterful direction of BlacKkKlansman. But Cuaron wins.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born

TYLER: Submitting Buster Scruggs as Adapted on the strength of it’s recitations of Jack London, Shakespeare and Lincoln is a hell of a stretch, even for the stretchiest Oscar category. And as I said before in the direction (and later in the edit), I have a problem awarding BlacKkKlansman a narrative award given the inconsistent truths and outright complete additions to the story that Lee and his writing team presented as history (the crooked cop angle is completely invented, btw). Ain’t much of a stretch to adapt a movie into another movie, sorry Bradley. So this comes down to an upset win between Barry Jenkins and Nicole Holofcener, and there’s no wrong answer here to me. So I’ll go with my heart… Beale Street.

DAVID: There’s a pretty good chance that all eight of the Best Picture nominees pick up an award. This would be BlacKkKlansman’s, even though the script was one of the weakest things about it. Give me the subtle grace of Beale Street or Can You Ever Forgive Me? instead.

CHASE: Don’t get it twisted. This is easy. This is the way the Academy gets an Oscar in Spike Lee’s hand. BlacKkKlansman wins, but pour one out for Beale Street.

SEAN: Since when did narrative films have to be documentaries? Spare me the “but it’s not all true” outrage, BlacKkKlansman is devastatingly powerful and outrageously entertaining. The crooked cop comeuppance scene at the end is a deliberately false Hollywood ending used as juxtaposition to the real documentary footage that shows America’s true continued racist history. They knew exactly what they were doing writing this script and its tonal whiplash perfectly captures the horror and absurdity of Lee’s subject. It deserves this win.

The Favourite

The Favourite
First Reformed
Green Book

TYLER: I feel like nominating Green Book as an original screenplay is a wonderful self-own by the movie, given that Vallelonga’s failson’s recounting of this trip is not based on any sort of reality but is, instead, just some Driving Ms. Daisy bullshit. First Reformed’s script is showy, polemic and righteous, but peaks far too early with the conversation between Ethan Hawke’s Toller and the fatalist Michael. That leaves Roma’s subtle devastation and the acerbic, unsparing tongue of Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. Gotta give it to them, The Favourite’s dialog absolutely crackles.

DAVID: Green Book getting nominated for Screenplay is the darkest joke in an awards season full of them. Oscar nominee Nick Vallelonga. Unbelievable. I’m expecting The Favourite to get acknowledged here too, though I’m much, much higher on Paul Schrader’s First Reformed script than Tyler is.

CHASE: Since we’re having the First Reformed discussion, put me firmly in Tyler’s camp. Paul Schrader and spiritualism go together like toothpaste and orange juice, and that film flatly did not work for me. The Favourite was my favorite (ugh) film of the year, and I can’t handle it getting blanked like Lady Bird did last year.

SEAN: It should be a battle between First Reformed and The Favourite, but I’m terrified that Green Book could still spoil the party. At the same time, Paul Schrader had never even been nominated before this year and he’s the man who gave us Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. It’s absurd that he doesn’t already have an Oscar. This is the career award I want to see happen on Oscar Sunday (sorry Glenn Close).

Page 2: Animated, Doc, Cinematography, Score

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